Governor Hughes by Howard Freedlander

Governor Harry Hughes

The death of former Gov. Harry R. Hughes on Wednesday at 92 leaves a void in Maryland’s political landscape. He represented honor and humility. He was a gentleman who treasured his Eastern Shore roots.

I last saw Gov. Hughes on November 13 when I was invited to join his former staffers to celebrate his 92d birthday at a lunch at his home outside Denton overlooking the Choptank River. Though perhaps he didn’t hear all the chatter, he seemed to enjoy the good cheer and stories about past political battles. I was impressed by how loyal his former staffers remained to a person whom they clearly liked and greatly admired.

This Denton native served as governor from 1978 to 1986. He beat all odds and some derision to win the Democratic primary and then the gubernatorial election by 400,000 votes. He determined at the outset to restore integrity to the State House after his two predecessors, Spiro Agnew and Marvin Mandel, had faced legal charges for their behavior in office.

In recent years, I had seen more of Harry (as he was wont to be called) at lunches in Easton with former staffers and, not so happily, at Shore Medical Center in Easton. He grappled with pneumonia as he aged and found himself frequently sitting in a hospital bed awaiting friends bringing him unhealthy but welcomed food.

Whenever I visited Harry in the hospital, he was typically low-key and reserved. He expected no special treatment from the nursing staff. He was always friendly and down-to-earth.

As a member of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s board of directors, I learned how beloved the former governor was in the land preservation community. He was a longtime friend and former chair of ESLC.

A few years ago, the organization named its conference room in honor of Gov. Hughes. He was pleased and honored. He harbored no sense of entitlement.

During his two terms as governor, Harry Hughes became particularly known for his environmental record. He brought together the states of Pennsylvania and Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, to establish a regional program focused on the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. This compact still exists.

In a controversial but beneficial decision, he placed a moratorium in 1985 on the harvesting of rockfish. Commercial fishermen were furious. Science proved Harry right. The moratorium remained in place until 1990 when the species bounced back enough to allow a limited harvest.

Harry Hughes practiced politics with class and civility. He inspired a return of integrity to the Maryland State House.He extolled a workmanlike approach to governing our small but complicated state. He forswore showmanship.

You will be missed, Harry. You made a difference. You sought to build a legacy based on results and ethics.

And you did.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

 

 

A Conversation with Easton Council President John Ford

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we begin today a series of interviews over the next year with Talbot County and town council presidents. By providing a platform to highlight particular issues and opportunities through these conversations, it is hoped this new format will encourage more civic engagement.

We continue our new series with a discussion with John Ford, president of the Easton Town Council.  In our first conversation, John talks about Easton’s economic development (including prospects for a downtown grocery store), zoning for Easton Point (a critical part of the Port Street projet), multiculturalism, and filling the Council vacancy of Pete Lesher, who recently won an election for the Talbot County Council, among other topics.

This video is approximately eighteen minutes in length. For more information on the Easton Town Council please go here

Maryland Leaders Announce School-funding Plans Based on Kirwan Report

Maryland Democratic legislators announced Tuesday “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” a bill that would provide funding for increased teacher salaries, improved teacher training and free, full-day prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-old children in poverty.

Introduced by House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, this bill — along with an identical counterpart in the Maryland Senate — would allocate $325 million in fiscal year 2020 and $750 million in fiscal year 2021 toward funding the five main policy areas outlined by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education.

The panel — nicknamed the “Kirwan Commission” — has been working since 2016 to come up with recommendations for education improvements across the state, Chair William “Brit” Kirwan said Tuesday.

Kirwan called his experience with the commission the “most important thing I have ever worked on in my life,” citing the shortage of teachers in the state of Maryland as a major contributor to a lack of academic success.

House bill 1413 would establish more opportunities for career growth among educators and provide them with salary increases in order to avoid the “revolving door” of teachers that some schools are suffering from, Kirwan said. The bill will also heighten the rigor of state certification standards for teachers, Kirwan said.

This bill would provide early support and intervention for low-income families, including full-day prekindergarten for children ages 3 and 4, according to Kirwan.

The blueprint will set a “college and career readiness standard,” one that is aimed to ensure that by the time a student completes the 10th grade (if not, by the time of high school graduation), they will have the English and mathematical literacy necessary to succeed in the first year of a community college program, according to Kirwan.

The “blueprint” will also provide pathways to free early college programs that would allow students who have met these standards to earn an associate’s degree while still in high school. The bill will also provide access to career and technical education for those who have met the college and career readiness standards.

The measure would provide additional support and services for English learners, students with disabilities and students from low-income families who have not met their college and career readiness standards.

The bill would also provide an accountability system to ensure that school districts are implementing the improvements identified by the commission, according to Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, R, underlined the importance of making sure the bill’s accountability system is air-tight in a letter he sent to legislative leaders Nov. 27.

“Increased funding and strong accountability are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they must be aligned to ensure that Marylanders are receiving a world class education and good value for the state tax dollars invested,” Hogan said in the letter.

Students and educators, clad in red Strong Schools Maryland T-shirts, came to Annapolis to show their support.

Eleven-year-old City Neighbors Charter School student Mallory Lerch said increased funding and access to teachers would make for a better, more creative classroom environment at her school in Baltimore.

“I think our schools are really underfunded and we deserve more,” Mallory said.

The Maryland State Education Association said they are in support of the bill and the school improvements and teacher salary increases it addresses, according to the president, Cheryl Bost.

Though no hearing date has been set, identical legislation, Senate bill 1030, is scheduled to be heard by a Maryland Senate committee Wednesday.

By Charlie Youngmann

 

A Conversation with Talbot County Council President Corey Pack

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we begin today a series of interviews over the next year with Talbot County and town council presidents. By providing a platform to highlight particular issues and opportunities through these conversations, it is hoped this new format will encourage more civic engagement.

We continue our new series with a discussion with Cory Pack, president of the Talbot County Council.  In the case of Talbot, it must be said that they have started the year with a jam-packed agenda. That is one reason our first chat with Corey lasts more than 20 minutes. The Spy is committed to making these updates as brief as possible, but in our first one with President Pack, we thought it best to have an extended version.

In our first conversation, our talk ranges from the extension of sewers, the Frederick Douglass Park, short-term rentals, dredging in Tilghman, the St. Michaels Family YMCA, and other topics that should have a real interest to county residents.

This video is approximately twenty-two minutes in length. For more information on the Talbot County Council please go here

Easton Business Alliance Moves forward on Arts & Entertainment District

The Easton Business Alliance is currently working with the Town of Easton to pursue a Maryland Arts & Entertainment District for a 113-acre section of town in and around Easton’s historic downtown. The district will offer tax benefits to qualified-residing artists, arts and entertainment enterprises, and developers renovating or building new construction for arts organizations.

“This state designation is something that we’ve been piecing together for quite some time,” Easton Business Alliance director Ross Benincasa said. “To know that we are finally in the home stretch is a great feeling.”

Benincasa presented to the Easton Town Council during a working session the evening of February 18, focusing on the benefits of obtaining the Arts & Entertainment District designation and what it can do for areas in need around Easton’s downtown.

“Overall, the designation comes at a low cost to the Town, while supporting the development of new arts programs and enterprises in Easton,” Benincasa said. “We see the tremendous economic impact the arts have in Easton and Talbot County, both through businesses and events, and it’s time for us to formalize a plan to continue that growth into the future.”

The proposed Easton Arts District would include income tax benefits to qualified-residing artists who create and sell their work in A&E districts, as well as property tax abatements to developers who renovate or build new spaces for arts and entertainment enterprises, including affordable live-and-work environments.

If passed, the Easton Arts District would fill a void in Talbot County, currently the only county on the Eastern Shore without a designated Arts & Entertainment District. According to Benincasa, the high-interest development areas within the proposed district include mixed-use locations along Dover Street and in the East End community, as well as along Brookletts Avenue.

To learn more about the proposed Easton Arts District, please visit www.discovereaston.com/arts-proposal

A Conversation with St. Michaels Commissioners President William Boos

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we begin today a series of interviews over the next year with Talbot County and town council presidents. By providing a platform to highlight particular issues and opportunities through these conversations, it is hoped this new format will encourage more civic engagement.

We start this new series with a discussion with William Boos, president of the Town of St Michaels Commissioners. While the Spy and Bill talked of many subjects related to St Michaels during our first interview, it was the Spy’s editorial choice to highlight Bill’s comments about the town’s plans, and some serious misunderstandings, on its intention to build a new town hall in the foreseeable future at Fremont and Canton Streets.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about the Town of St. Michaels please go here.

 

ESLC’s Jim Bass Reports on Eastern Shore’s Preparedness for Rising Seas Levels

Given the nature of things – literally – it won’t be surprising for the Eastern Shore to have several studies prepared in the decades ahead that record and evaluate the dangers facing its rural communities as sea levels continue to rise throughout the century.

With the Delmarva Peninsula being one of the country’s most vulnerable landscapes for flooding and erosion as the result of global warming, there is an ever growing concern on the part of local government staff, conservation organizations, agricultural associations, and state agencies on what is being done, and what could be done, to prepare the Shore for this extraordinarily dramatic shift in climate.

One of the first of these has just been prepared by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy with a new study to assist local governments to plan for the impacts of sea level rise. Titled “Mainstreaming Sea Level Rise Preparedness in Local Planning and Policy on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” the study is centered on sea level rise projections for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in the years 2050 and 2100.

This report was written on behalf of the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership  – a regional workgroup of local government staff, partners from the State of Maryland, academic institutions, and nonprofits for that very reason.

The ESCAP assists communities in reducing climate vulnerabilities and risks; collects and shares information among communities and decision makers; and educates members, residents, and elected leaders on risks and adaptation strategies. It also serves to raise the visibility and voice of the Eastern Shore and rural regions in conversations about adaptation and resilience.

The Spy sat down last week with Jim Bass, ESLC’s Coastal Resilience Specialist, who helped manage the study, last week to find out what the significant takeaways were and what must be done in the future to protect and defend the Mid-Shore from this dangerous new future we face.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information regarding this study, ESCAP, or ESLC’s coastal resilience program, please contact ESLC Coastal Resilience Specialist Jim Bass at jbass@eslc.org.The study is available to view and download at www.eslc.org/resilience.

Panuzio Steps Down as Chair of Talbot County GOP

Nick Panuzio, who has served as chair of the Republican Central Committee of Talbot County since 2009, has stepped down.

Panuzio’s service as the chair of the local Central Committee caps a long and distinguished career in politics and public service.

Under his leadership of the Central Committee, the number of Republican candidates winning local elections in Talbot County increased greatly. During his tenure, Governor Hogan received almost 70% of the votes cast in Talbot County in the 2014 gubernatorial election and 77% of the votes cast in Talbot County in 2018 on his way to a historic re-election.

Panuzio began his political career by winning an election to serve as mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He won by 9 votes, running as a Republican in a city where 70% of the registered voters were Democrats. He also served in the Connecticut state legislature and ran for governor of Connecticut in 1974.

Panuzio moved to Washington DC after being appointed by President Gerald Ford to serve as the U.S. Commissioner of Public Buildings for the General Services Administration. He was responsible for the construction, leasing, management and protection of all federal buildings including several Presidential Libraries. He was also responsible for overseeing a national program on the utilization, re-utilization of government-owned real property as well as disposal of excess properties.

Following that presidential appointment, he served as an advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Panuzio also served as the CEO of a public affairs consulting firm in Washington DC.

Panuzio’s career has been much more than numerous significant accomplishments in the political and government arenas. He has also been very involved in Talbot County civic and community affairs. He served as a member of the Finance Council at Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church; was awarded an Order of Merit from the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington; served on the Town of St. Michaels Housing Authority; and chaired the Housing Commission of Talbot County. He has been and is a loyal friend, expert mentor and advisor to countless citizens and elected officials.

In recognition of his long and deep commitment to public service, Panuzio received two Honorary Doctorates (one in Law and one in Humane Letters) from the University of Bridgeport, where he also served as an administrator and professor.

Acts Retirement and Integrace Sign Agreement

Acts Retirement-Life Communities, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit senior living organizations, has entered into an agreement to affiliate with Integrace and assume management and operation of its four senior living communities located throughout Maryland. The affiliation is expected to close on May 1, 2019, at which time Integrace and its current entities will become affiliated with Acts.

Founded in 1974, Integrace is a not-for-profit system of retirement communities consisting of Bayleigh Chase in Easton; Buckingham’s Choice in Adamstown; Fairhaven in Sykesville; and Copper Ridge in Sykesville, along with an industry renowned research institute, The Integrace Institute. Collectively, the four communities are home to approximately 1,080 residents and provide a continuum of services including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, short-term rehabilitation and specialized programming for Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and other types of neurocognitive disorders.

Bayleigh Chase

“Our affiliation with Integrace is an exciting opportunity for Acts as our organizations share a common mission, values and desire to enrich the lives of seniors,” said Gerald T. Grant, Acts President and CEO. “We are excited to welcome Integrace into the Acts family, further strengthening both organizations and helping to secure a positive future for all the residents and staff under our care.”

Heron Point of Chestertown

With the affiliation, Acts will be expanding its presence in Maryland, where it operates another senior living community, Heron Point of Chestertown. Acts is one of the strongest companies of its kind among not-for-profit senior living providers with assets of $1.5 billion and maintains an A- rating from Fitch Ratings. Upon regulatory approval of the affiliation, Acts will manage a network of 27 faith-based senior living communities in nine states totaling 9,504 units, maintaining its status as the third largest multi-site senior living organization according to the LeadingAge Ziegler listing of the nation’s not-for-profit aging services providers. The Acts communities are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

“We are delighted to be joining forces with Acts, which is one of the industry’s premier senior living organization’s that throughout its history has demonstrated a strong commitment to residents and employees,” said Jackie Harris, Integrace President and CEO. “We believe that our faith-based organizations blend very well, and that our affiliation will contribute greatly to the continued excellent lifestyle and care for residents and growth experience for employees.”

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum selected to build Maryland Dove

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has officially been selected to build a new Maryland Dove, a representation of the late 17th-century trading ship that accompanied the first European settlers to what is now Maryland. Maryland Dove is owned by the state of Maryland and operated and maintained by the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission.

“HSMC and CBMM are natural partners in this project,” said Regina Faden, Executive Director at Historic St. Mary’s City. “It fulfills both our missions and delivers a new Dove to tell the story of (early) Maryland.”

Maryland Dove is Historic St. Mary’s City’s floating ambassador and one of its most popular exhibits. The goal of the new ship design is to be as close to the 1634 original as possible, including features that were not known when Maryland Dove was built in 1978.

Ship design work will commence in January 2019, and construction is anticipated to begin at CBMM by mid-year. The launch of the new Maryland Dove is targeted for 2021. All work will be done in full public view, allowing the public to experience every stage of the project.

“We are thrilled and honored to have been selected to build a new Maryland Dove,” said CBMM President Kristen Greenaway. “Over the course of the next few years, our shipwrights and apprentices will build a historically accurate replacement to the existing ship, and we welcome guests to be a part of the construction and education experience.”

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